23 Oct 2015

“My dear, the Fear is here.”

Author: krb3k | Filed under: social media, Technology, Uncategorized

So the time has finally come for my MOOC “Personal Branding: Establishing & Promoting Yourself for Business and Life” to go live. I found out today that Coursera expects to launch it this coming Monday, the 26th.

I had decided to develop a class on Personal Branding last Spring, and was approached by Dr. Kristin Palmer, UVA’s Director of Online Learning Programs, with the idea of developing it as a Massive Open Online Course for the University of Virginia on the Coursera platform. I replied with an enthusiastic “yes”, for several reasons: 1) It sounded interesting, 2) I believe firmly that the more people who are sharing their talents and knowledge, the better the world can be , 3) as the Emerging Technologies Librarian, I believe that it’s my duty to explore new and new-ish technologies, 4) my schedule looked clear! My plan had been to work on developing the course content in Spring/early Summer, film during mid-Summer, edit during late Summer, and launch it in September.

Well, the first three stood the test of time, but the last one fell apart and my careful scheduling lay in smoking ruins. Personally and professionally, this has been a very difficult six months. The details aren’t important, just take my word for it :)

So, launch day is almost here, and I’m feeling lots of emotions: excitement, relief, and, chief amongst them, fear.

There’s a line from a Travis song (appropriately titled “The Fear”), that keeps reverberating through my head:

“But here, closer every year
So near, the fear is coming clear
My dear, the fear is here”

Indeed. The fear is definitely here.

Because I’m me, and this is how I process things, I’ve categorized my fears into Personal and Professional.

Let’s begin with the Professional:

My colleagues in the technology and medical libraries worlds will say things like:

  • “That’s it? She been working on this for three months and that’s all that she has to show for it?? I was expecting a lot more.”
  • “Wow, this isn’t academic at all. I was expecting more support from the literature for what she says.”

People who have degrees in Marketing/Communications (which I do not), will be outraged and think that the whole thing is garbage. UVA has an entire school devoted to this sort of thing, so yeah, I’m nervous. I’m afraid that a faculty member will think that he/she should have been the one to create this MOOC, and then there will be outrage! And shouting! And mocking! This is unlikely, as we’re all professionals here…


The Personal Fears:

  • I’m a woman who’s about to put herself out on the Internet in a relatively big way. If you know anything about women who dare to say stuff on the Internet, then you can perhaps understand this fear. For the past couple of days, social media has been buzzing with the story of how Mia Matsumiya decided to share 10 years’ worth of threatening messages she’d received online in order to make people understand the extent of what women can experience. Warning: the linked article contains screenshots of messages that are sexually graphic and violent; they are NSFW, and will turn your stomach.
  • According to the Pew Internet and American Life’s report on Online Harassment, women and young adults are more likely to experience harassment on social media.
    And please don’t misunderstand me: I’m not implying that I’m devastatingly attractive because a) my looks are pretty average, and b) most importantly, physical attractiveness has absolutely nothing to do with someone deciding to make threats against a woman with whom they disagree. Just as rape is more about power than it is about sex, threats originate from people (overwhelmingly male) who believe that an appropriate response to a woman’s dissenting opinion is to dox her, or threaten to rape her, or threaten to kill her.

    And very few police departments understand the world of online threats, from doxing to swatting.

Now, intellectually, I understand that the threat of this is relatively low. Still, one of my charming qualities is my tendency to expect the worst :D

I have more to say about the process of creating my MOOC, and will detail all of that (and what I already know that I’d do differently if I were starting the process today) in future posts.

For today, though, I’m trying to hug my fears tightly, and then, come Monday, let them all go.